August 27th 2020 – Escaping America

Yes I’m writing another book. This one is about moving to Italy in the middle of a pandemic! It is a tongue in cheek dark comedy. I’m having fun writing it already.

Breath, girl, you can do this, but do you still want to?

After balancing the huge red squishy bag on top of my overfilled suitcase, I wrapped the strap of my handbag around my carryon and slowly manipulated my way towards the ticket counter. I’d only taken a few steps when a rather strict looking man came striding towards me. He held his arm up in a Hitler type salute and yelled STOP!

“Use the Ticket Machine.” He said.

Are you kidding me?

“I can’t use the ticket machine because I have a pile of documents that need to be checked. I’m flying to Italy, and I have medical declarations to show you.”

He rolled his eyes. “You can’t fly to Italy unless you live there, I think you’ll need to postpone your trip until COVID19 is over, there are rules. Vacations must be postponed.”

“I do live there. I have my residency card right here along with my other documents.”

The man looked even more disgruntled and stomped back to the counter.

Oh dear, he’s going to lose it when he weighs my suitcase.

Italian Friendliness and Creativity!

Photo by Sandra Thompson

I read a newspaper on line called “The Local, Italy” and one of the articles today made me smile. After making a couple of changes to reference Colledimezzo, I’m sharing it with you. It sums up what makes life in Italy so special.

The ten positives you’ll notice when moving to Italy from the US (or the UK)

The beauty
The way you can “stumble upon” beauty anywhere. The gorgeous architecture in churches and other buildings as well as small points of beauty such as the way someone has arranged their garden flowers.

The patience
The patience of the people with my poor Italian, the way they apologize because they don’t speak English! (Not necessary to apologize — this is Italy!).

The church bells
The sound of the church bells ringing, randomly as well as gloriously at 12 noon in the piazza.

The kindness
I asked the pharmacist how to contact the physiotherapist that lives in the village. When she couldn’t reach him by phone, she ran across the street and knocked on the door of his grandmother’s house to see if she knew where he was.

The friendliness
The way at holiday time, everyone greets each other with Buon Natale or Buon Anno.

The openness
The way you can meet people in a restaurant and become friends for life.

The history
No need to explain, it is overwhelming. The tiny village pf Colledimezzo (my home) brags of castles, palazzos and enough WWII stories to keep you enthralled all night.

The seasons
Here in Italy every season unfolds with such beauty and is distinct and wondrous.

The people
The old men sitting in cafes talking endlessly and watching the world go by. And the way every single Italian has an opinion on most things, and loves to share it.

The security
The feeling that I am safe and never alone. People are always willing to help.

The creativity
The creativity used to make everything work… somehow.

Smile through the Bumps!

It looks pretty idyllic doesn’t it? It is, even on a bad day, but life has still it’s little bumps!
My broken wrist, even though it’s healing, is really taking it’s toll. The cast is heavy and tiring to carry around all of the time. I’m limited what I can wear because even buttons are a challenge. Shoe laces, forget about it! On the bright side I’m learning to do a lot more with one hand. However fastening a bra does not come into that category!!! Nor does driving. How I miss exploring new places…and shopping.

I can still walk and enjoy these amazing views. In a little over two weeks my cast will be off and I’ll throw myself into the Christmas spirit and prepare for my daughter’s visit. Oh, and three wonderful days in Rome.

I’ll leave a little poem to cheer you up!

Smile: A Poem by Spike Milligan
Smiling is infectious,
you catch it like the flu,
When someone smiled at me today,
I started smiling too.
I passed around the corner
and someone saw my grin.
When he smiled I realized
I’d passed it on to him.
I thought about that smile,
then I realized its worth.
A single smile, just like mine
could travel round the earth.
So, if you feel a smile begin,
don’t leave it undetected.
Let’s start an epidemic quick,
and get the world infected!

Italy – My Home

My friend Marianna

I’ve been feeling a little low lately, not miserable, not unhappy, just a little low.It’s not helping that I’m struggling to do everything with one hand because of this stupid cast. This young lady cheered me up and blew away my blues.

After a long walk, and some conversational Italian on Zoom, I decided to go to the bar. Lester has a dentist appointment and would be gone for a while so I had a couple of hours to kill. I wasn’t alone for long.

This young lady rises early, helps take care of her grandkids, cooks, and tends a large plot of land. We sat together and talked for a while. It wasn’t a smooth conversation, but I did my best.

Look at that smile…isn’t she lovely.

Food for all Tastes

The past few days have been filled with rain and writhing mists. Lovely to watch from my window. I don’t mind days like this, it gives me time to reset myself and take care of indoor chores I’ve been putting off for too long. My kitchen now much more user friendly in preparation for my son-in-law, who likes to cook. He will be here at Christmas…got to have the kitchen ready for him.
Yesterday (Sabato) wasn’t so bad and we met some friends for a fish and chip lunch. British fish and chips are not a regular cuisine in Abruzzo, but a lovely restaurant close by called Osteria Livornese, was serving them as a special for two days. They were delicious. We drank a little too much wine, but oh well. The chief was Irish and cooked the best fish and chips I’ve ever had. He was pretty amusing also…oh wait, of course he was, he’s Irish. We’ll visit the restaurant again and try out their specialty which is a fish broth called cacciucco.
When I opened my eyes at 7am this morning I thought it was still night time. The rain was heavy and has barely let up all day. I’d love to go for a walk, but not a chance. Instead I practiced Italian (as always), and then decided to harvest some of my basil and make pesto sauce. It turned out great!
I cooked Lancashire Hotpot for lunch, with Parmigiano Reggiano sprinkled on top, just to give it an Italian twist.
It’s still raining so I’m going to open one of Mr. King’s books, (Stephen to his friends) and laze away the afternoon in front of the fire.
Enjoy your Sunday everyone! (Buona Domenica a tutti)

The Pomegranate Trick

In Greek mythology, the pomegranate was known as the ‘fruit of the dead’ as it was said to have arisen from the blood of Adonis. … Hades, God of the underworld, used pomegranate seeds to trick Persephone into returning to the underworld for a few months of every year.

Good job no one tricked me because I’d spend the rest of my life in Hades! When I was a child pomegranates were a Christmas treat and I loved them. My mum made me pick each individual seed from the fruit with a pin. It took forever to finish, but I loved it. The pomegranates (melograno) that grow wild here in Abruzzo just fall apart. They are juicy and scrumptious. My good friend Franco gave me four last Sunday and this is the last one. It’s all I’ve eaten so far today because last night we enjoyed the hospitality of Nino and Vittoria. As always their food was delicious. Prosciutto wrapped around a delicious juicy melon for starters, followed by a constant flow of Italian delights, all washed down with excellent local wine. Of course the meal ended with various digestivos. Limoncello, Sambuca and Amaro….to name but a few. Wonderful night. I’ve been trying to pluck up courage to cook for Nino and Vittoria…piano piano as they say in Italy (slowly). They’re a hard act to follow.

Today is a foggy rainy day, but thats OK, it washes the old cobbled alleyways and refreshes the countryside.

I finished my pomegranate while writing this so I hope I don’t get snatched away to Hades!
Have a lovely day everyone.

Good Day Everyone – Buon giorno a tutti!

Too much time has passed since my last post. We’ve been busy, but in a fun way. If I ever had to start working again I’d have a problem, I don’t have the time.
A week ago we took our first tourists around Colledimezzo. So glad we got involved in this project, it was fun! Since then we’ve been on the go the whole time. Our life here is full of fun and surprises. I’m still discovering new places to shop for local food, delicious cheeses and all things Abruzzese. I’m also still finding things I need for the house. We came here with very little.
Domenico, our brilliant carpenter, finished the bench for our little alcove/bar area so I had to find cushions. I was so excited to find a couple of large side cushions that look like photographs of our village. Aren’t they gorgeous? On Sunday we hosted lunch for five very good friends. I cooked pasta di fagioli, which is a soup starring cannelloni beans and small pieces of pasta. I followed that with chicken, sausages and onion’s roasted in the oven. It all went very well. Good food, good friends and great conversation. Of course the wine was excellent too.
Today I’m a little tired…but managed to muster up strength to help with a firewood delivery for our neighbors that live down the steps from us. Our neighbors from Iceland jumped in to help too, and the wood was soon stacked neatly away.
What now? A little (very little) bit of housework and then maybe a walk. It is a glorious day.

Buon giorno a tutti!

The Cats of Colledimezzo

There are very few domestic cats in Colledimezzo. Majority of these fluffy felines are cared for by the village. They are a little feral and mostly unapproachable. The bigger cat on the left was a kitten when I moved here a year ago. I’d feed her and her four legged sibling on left overs when I had any. She was the cutest little thing.

When she turned up again in May of this year, she looked like her days were numbered. She was skinny, her fur was matted and her eyes were dull. I fed her leftovers and a little milk, but she didn’t always want food, just wanted to sit outside my door and feel safe. Pretty soon it was obvious she was nursing, which is why she looked so bad, her babies were taking all of her goodness. She wouldn’t let me approach her, and hissed if I came too close, but I fed her anyway. After a couple of months she began to look much better. Still too skinny, but she looked healthy. Last week she turned up with her babies, two black, one the same color as her, and a solitary ginger kitten. They are adorable. No, I can’t take them in, but I can help them survive. The babies love bread and milk. The enjoy left over rice too.

Now as well as the locals who come to my friendship window…I have furry four legged friends too. I enjoy them all.

Death Bells – The Sound of Serenity

Our home in Colledimezzo is very close to the church. I could easily throw a tennis ball and have it bounce on the church steps. The Church bells ring every fifteen minutes! I like the bells, they’re beautiful. I can’t leave the windows open at night because the sound would keep me awake, but thats OK. Bells are happy, traditional and typically Italian. They remind me I’m here, I realized my dream, and retired to Italy. They tell everyone when to wake up, when to go to church, and sadly, when someone dies, they are part of the way of life here.

I don’t like hearing the bells is when they’re telling us someone died. The death bells make a beautiful and peaceful sound, but they are ringing because a soul is passing from this world to the next. In spring of this year, the death bells were a regular occurrence. We lost a lot of elderly villagers. It wasn’t due to COVID, it was just their time to go. A couple of months ago, a treasured local was taken from us, someone we still miss. He was taken way too soon. Those death bells were difficult to listen to.

Yesterday, when I heard the bells, I knew who’d gone. He was old and quite ill. The bells were a beautiful way to mark his passage. They rang again today for his funeral. I hope he can hear their sweet sound from above.

When it’s my turn to go, I can handle the death bells, but only if they’re followed by Rod Stewart singing “I am sailing” enjoyed by all of my friends while they drink champagne and toast my life.

Enjoy your Sunday and hug your loved ones.

Fossacesia – September on the Beach

I love September.

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